Beginning in the 1980s, the Bandwalla has become a recurrent theme in Krishen Khanna's oeuvre. Khanna's choice of subject has mostly been inspired by the experiences of the daily life and pathos of the common man.
The Bandwallas are an everyday sight all across the country. They are comic and bold and his portrayal of them is superb in terms of their bright colorful uniforms, gold epaulettes and brass buttons right down to their often tired expressions as they belt out the same tunes repeatedly for one wedding procession after another. The series remains a light departure from his politically and socially responsive more known works.
"What would happen were I to begin with no drawing or compositional props, where figures are not in space but are space themselves, and colors ringing loud and clear in merry juxtaposition without tonal continuities or intermediary grays, and the application of color pigment were assertive and not tentative? I found a new exuberance in the act of painting. Using the image of the bandwalla, I let it go, not attempting to rub out or physically eradicate, and gave vent to all the possibilities stimulated by that odd instinct."
(Krishen Khanna, 'Beyond the Bandwalla's Cacophony: a non- committal statement by the artist' AHJ 10 (1990-91))